SHDHS Music Students Learn About the Past, and the Future of Detroit Music

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Our tour started out with a whirlwind tour of three iconic locations in the Motor City. Things began - as they did 'back in the day' - at United Sound Systems Recording Studios (USSRS), the oldest independent recording studio in the United States, and a catalyst for change in the industry as we know it. Just being in the various studio spaces, and hearing about the unbelievable history in this building was incredible.  Unfortunately, the building is in danger of being torn down to make way for an expanded highway, but there are a number of people who are fighting this action. United Sound Systems Recording Studios has a number of good friends including SHDHS Music Director Isaac Moore. Together with Carleton Gholz and a group of like-minded individuals in the Detroit Sound Conservancy, advocacy and preservation action has been ongoing over the few past years to historically designate the building and help save it from demolition. We will hopefully see the highway restructuring take a different path and spare the deep history that is United Sound Systems.

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Our group had a terrific tour of the various studios inside USSRS.  These rooms have seen artists such as Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Parliament- Funkadelic and the Red Hot Chili Peppers record hit after hit, and the spaces are still available for recording today. For more information about United Sound, visit unitedsoundsystemsrecordingstudios.com and for more information on the work of the Detroit Sound Conservancy, visit www.detroitsoundconservancy.org.

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Next we were off to Hitsville, USA! Also known as Motown’s Studio “A”, where we watched a film detailing the history of how Berry Gordy built his multi-million-dollar business from an $800 loan. The original house in which Gordy lived and worked, grew to involve a block of houses before moving into a commercial building that could accommodate all of the functions that had been divided up in that block. Motown eventually relocated to Los Angeles, but not before recording and releasing hundreds of hit records that were recorded in the “Snakepit” in Hitsville, USA. “My Girl”, “Dancing in the Streets”, “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” and many, many more hits came from that little house on West Grand Boulevard.  It was an honour to visit such an important place, and even do a little dancing and singing on the studio floor.

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Before taking on the longest part of our journey we had a special visit to Third Man Records. Jack White, a native of Detroit and part of the famous White Stripes, opened the original Third Man Records in Nashville and then came home to open a large location in the Cass Corridor in Detroit that houses recording facilities, merchandise and performance space for music, poetry as well as art shows. The attention to detail, colour and function in the building made for a fascinating visit, and we all came away with a few goodies courtesy of Third Man’s staff.  Some students even got to play guitar through the same amps that Jack White used on the Grammy awards in 2004!

A huge thanks to these places for making us feel so welcome, and sharing their incredible stories with us!

Ahead of us lies a long drive which should see us arrive in Memphis around 1:30 or 2:00 AM on Thursday. Stay tuned for our adventures on this blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We are having an amazing trip so far.

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Canadian Author Andrew Pyper Speaks at SHDHS

Ap“But they are only the faces of the dead. Coming into detail as we hurtle toward them. They see us, too. Fingers scratching at the ice’s rough underside, desperate to be the first to pull us down.”

This is a quote from "The Damned", the latest mystery/thriller novel from award-winning Canadian Author Andrew Pyper, who recently visited students of  South Huron District High School (SHDHS) and spoke to them about what it means to be a writer.

The presentation allowed opportunity for students to ask questions and to learn directly from an accomplished writer. In fact, the visit is just one of three workshops planned this year between Pyper and SHDHS as they study Pyper's body of work.

Inspired by authors like Alice Munro and Stephen King, Pyper slowly draws his readers into the world he has created, often playing upon the fear that lies underneath something that at first appears seemingly innocent.

Influences of Pyper's home town of Stratford can be seen in some of his novels, such as "The Guardians" which centres around a dark and foreboding house in small town rural Ontario.

Pyper began his career by writing short stories for various magazines. He is now an award winning author who's books have been translated into multiple languages, with feature length movie adaptations soon to follow.


Gold and Bronze National Awards for our Senior and Junior Bands! #MFC2015

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The music students of South Huron have once again made our school and community very proud.  On this historic day, both our Senior and Junior bands suited up for our performance on the National stage.  SHDHS sent a record number 127 students to the Nationals this year from grades 7 to 12. The bands both worked very, very hard to rise to the National standard this year.  Many early mornings and after school rehearsals through sleety and snowy roads, many hours of practise on their own and above all, a dedication that was unwavering and concrete to make history for SHDHS.

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Our school should be proud to have sent our first Junior Band to Nationals EVER.  This large group of grade 7 and 8 students has worked hard to take their band to the National level after just two years in existence, and with many new players in the ensemble.   This group earned a B100 bronze for their performance, and should be proud of their accomplishments. 

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Playing at a National level is something only a few young bands in Canada get to do, and the work these students have put in, along with their amazing conductor Mrs. Regier is nothing short of impressive.  All these students should be proud of their accomplishments this year in their band and hold their heads very high, as a Nationally-recognized junior ensemble.  The possibilities and potential for this crew of students as they progress through our program are very exciting!

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Our Senior Band’s program consisted of challenging B400 level repertoire.  The nearly 25 minutes of music was a challenging program for our musicians, but an incredible focus and determination contributed to a magical performance. This performance of Blackwater (Carroll), The Seal Lullaby (Whitacre) and In the Forest of the King (LaPlante) was our best of the year.  The large audience was in awe as our students as they expertly navigated and competed at a level shared with larger schools and arts-focused schools from all over our country.  Our little school from Exeter put a B400 NATIONAL GOLD winning ensemble on that stage.  Every adjudicator was blown away, as we received top marks and ratings in almost all categories. This is the first National B400 GOLD award for South Huron since 2002.  

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In the clinic portion, the senior band sight-read a brand new piece of music and worked with Dr. Sommer Forrester from the University of Massachusetts Boston.  We were pointed in some different musical directions given some excellent feedback on our performance and reading abilities.

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In addition, Courtney McBride (Senior Band, Clarinet) and Noah McGregor (Junior Band, Bari Sax) were awarded the Musicfest Honour Award for their contributions to the SHDHS Bands this year.  In terms of leadership, musical abilities, and overall dedication to the music program at SHDHS, the band would like to thank and honour Courtney and Noah for their enthusiasm and dedication.

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Be PROUD, South Huron. This day at Nationals is something to hold up very high as a testament to the hard work and dedication we show here at SHDHS.  Each and every member of this community should share in our celebrations, as you all have had a role to play in our success.  Whether it’s a supportive attitude towards our music program, cheering on your friends who are involved in the bands, attending a concert or two in the year, buying a raffle ticket from our music council, or just being a panther and being proud of our school, you’re playing a part in our success. 

We thank you ALL very much for providing an environment where music matters at South Huron.


SHDHS Music Reunites After 65 Years!

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On September 27th, almost 100 music alumni and their families, friends and community members gathered in our gym to relive their days as music students at this school.

Guests were treated to a concert, free BBQ, a musical petting zoo (where people could try new instruments) and a room filled with memorabilia and photos form the last 65 years!

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We had a number of special guests, including former teachers, administration and some descendants of staff who have passed on. The day featured performances by the current Senior Band and Jazz Combo, Dave Robilliard, a vocal trio and the Alumni band!

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Many laughs were shared and stories re-told, and we're so thankful to the many former members of the music program who came back to play and be a part of our special day in honour of our history.

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South Huron DHS takes a National Silver in Vancouver

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The music students of South Huron have once again made our school and community very proud.  On this, the second day of our excursion to the west coast of our country, the band suited up for our performance on the National stage.  The band has worked very, very hard to rise to the National standard this year.  Many early mornings through sleety and snowy roads, many hours of practise and above all, a dedication that was unwavering and concrete.

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Our program was at the challenging B400 level.  For a rural school where students in the band just began playing their instruments in grade nine, this is in itself an accomplishment. The program consisted of Song of Lir (a Fergal Carroll masterpiece), Lonesome Scenes of Winter (an SHDHS commission from local composer Jeff Smallman) and Chant and Jubilo (a McBeth masterwork for band). With precision, masterful musicianship and a thirst for excellence, your SHDHS Panther musicians executed their performance with professionalism and artistry. 

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In the clinic portion, they sight-read a brand new piece of music expertly and impressed the adjuducators with their ability to bring the music off the page on a first read.  The band was then treated to an excellent clinic with Dr. Jeff Reynolds from the University of Toronto.  We were pointed in some different musical directions given some excellent feedback on our performance and reading abilities.

In addition, Scott Elliott was awarded the Musicfest Honour Award for his contributions to the SHDHS Band this year.  In terms of leadership, musical abilities, and his overall dedication to the music program at SHDHS, the band would like to thank and honour Scott for his enthusiasm and dedication to his playing and the group.  We will miss you and all of our grads next year!

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A huge thanks is extended to the musicians in the SHDHS band for their dedication to their craft and for reaching this major milestone for our school and community.  We are honoured to be a part of the National stage this year, and your dedication to your musicianship, constant thirst for learning and self-improvement and good humour represented our school and community well.

Be sure to follow our adventures in Vancouver by following #shdhsvan on Twitter and Instagram